Over 40 million Americans receive monthly benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. Since March 2020, they have been receiving an extra emergency allotment.
That benefit will end in January or February 2023, depending on your state.
That means most SNAP beneficiaries will see their benefits cut by at least $95, and in many cases, more. Recipients who are receiving Social Security payments may see additional cuts to their SNAP benefits.
👉 Note: SNAP benefits used to be called “Food Stamps,” and many people still use that term. Paper stamps are long gone, of course. Today benefits are loaded onto an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which recipients can use to buy approved food items.
What Are Emergency Allotments?
Emergency allotments were part of the Federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They were approved as part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020, enacted on March 18, 2020.
The initial emergency allotments provided little or no increase in benefits to people already receiving the maximum benefit or close to it, who were typically the neediest recipients. The formula was adjusted by the Biden administration in January 2021, providing additional relief for the poorest beneficiaries.
When Will Emergency Allotments End?
The federal spending bill for 2023 states that all emergency allotments will be discontinued after the issuance of February 2023 benefits. February 2023 is the last month in which anyone will receive an emergency allotment.
Some states allowed emergency allotments to expire in January. In these states, recipients will not get an emergency allotment in February.
Which States Will End Emergency Allotments After January?
The following states will issue their last emergency allotments in January 2023. SNAP beneficiaries in these states will not receive an emergency allotment in February or after.
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Residents of all other states will receive their last emergency allotment in February 2023.
How Much Will Be Cut From SNAP Benefits?
To understand the cuts in SNAP benefits, we have to look at how those benefits are calculated and at how much was added to them by the emergency allotments.
SNAP benefits are based on your family size, income, and assets. The formulas are complicated (it’s the government), but we only need to look at the basics.
For each family size, there’s an upper cutoff for income and assets. If your income and assets are above that level, you’re not eligible for SNAP benefits. This level may vary from state to state.
For each family size, there’s a minimum benefit and a maximum benefit. The neediest households with the lowest income and asset levels will get the maximum benefit. The least needy eligible families will get the minimum benefit.
👉 For Example
For a 2-person household in Massachusetts, the gross monthly income limit is $3,287. If your income is higher, you won’t qualify. The minimum benefit is $16, and the maximum benefit is $516.
If the gross monthly income of your 2-person family is $3,287, you’ll probably get the $16 minimum. If your income is zero, you’ll get a maximum of $516.
How Large Were the Emergency Allotments?
The emergency allotment rules stated that recipients would get the maximum for their family size or an additional $95, whichever is greater.
A family already receiving the maximum would get an additional $95.
Our hypothetical 2-person family receiving the minimum of $16 would have their benefits boosted to the maximum for their family size, or $459. That’s a difference of $443.
Different states delivered the emergency allotments in different ways, Some people got the full amount at the start of the month, and some received the emergency allotment as a separate deposit to their EBT cards halfway through the month.
Either way, this additional benefit will end after either January or February 2023, depending on your state of residence.
The total reduction in food purchasing power from the cuts has been estimated at $2.5 billion to $3 billion, much of it cut from the budgets of highly vulnerable families.
Why Are Emergency Allotments Ending?
Emergency allotments were designed to address temporary food needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. They were never intended to be permanent.
The legislation that created emergency allotments allowed them to continue as long as a public health emergency was in place. The government has extended the public health emergency declaration until April, but they have decided to end emergency allotments earlier.
Some critics have claimed that unemployed beneficiaries stay out of the workforce because they would rather collect SNAP benefits than work. This is claimed to be worsening the labor shortage.
👉 Note: SNAP recipients who are of working age and not disabled cannot retain their benefits if they quit a job or refuse to take one that is offered. They must also participate in employment and training programs.
Others have advocated keeping emergency allotments in place, pointing out that while the impact of COVID-19 may have faded, the rampant inflation of 2022 has had an even greater impact on the food budgets of economically marginal families.
Data support this point: food prices increased 10.6% from November 2021 to November 2022 and are expected to rise another 3.5% to 4.5% in 2023. This has a disproportionate impact on poor people, who spend a high percentage of their income on food.
Why Will Social Security Recipients See Greater Cuts?
The calculation of SNAP benefits includes Social Security benefits as income. When your income goes up, your SNAP benefits get smaller.
Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries receive a Cost of Living Adjustment, or COLA, every year. Because of the impact of inflation, the COLA for 2023 is relatively large. Benefits will see an 8.7% increase.
Social Security recipients who are also receiving SNAP benefits will see their SNAP benefits reduced because of their increased income. If the COLA increase raises their income above the SNAP qualification threshold, they will lose their SNAP benefits completely.
Will Any SNAP Benefits Rise?
The maximum monthly benefit for each family size will rise in 2023.
Change in Monthly Benefits From Fiscal Year 2022 to 2023
|Household Size||Maximum Monthly Benefit, Fiscal Year 2022||Maximum Monthly Benefit, Fiscal Year 2023|
|Each additional person||$188||$211|
Source: USDA. This applies to 48 states and the District of Columbia; Alaska and Hawaii are calculated separately.
In some cases, particularly for larger households, this increase may be enough to make up for the end of the emergency allotments.
Who Does SNAP Serve?
SNAP is America’s largest means-tested assistance program. Here are a few key SNAP statistics.
- 41.5 million Americans received SNAP benefits in 2021, almost 6 million more than in 2019.
- The number of SNAP recipients fell steadily from 2012 to 2019 and increased in 2020 and 2021.
- Over 66% of SNAP recipients are families with children.
- 86% of SNAP benefits go to a household containing a child, elderly person, or person with disabilities.
- 92% of SNAP benefits go to families living below the federally designated poverty line.
- Only 4% of SNAP beneficiaries also receive welfare (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families or TANF) payments.
- An approximate breakdown of SNAP recipients: 37% White, 26% African American, 16% Hispanic, 3% Asian, 2% Native American, and 16% “race unknown.”
- About 36% of SNAP recipients get the maximum allotment for their family size.
SNAP is administered by the US Department of Agriculture and managed through state agencies. It provides funds that can only be spent on approved food items. It is widely regarded as one of the most efficient and effective public assistance programs in the country.